When George McCollough joined Princeton Community Television in 2005, the channel had about three hours of programming per day and was run by the Borough of Princeton. Now McCollough is the executive director of the station, which has become a nonprofit that broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with hundreds of members and about 40 who regularly produce their own TV shows at the station’s studios at 1 Monument Drive.
Tune in to Princeton Community Television at any given time and you are likely to see one of the offbeat shows made by community members. You might catch “Duos and Dont’s,” a fashion show hosted by Mindy and Paula Shapiro, the Style Duo Twins. Or perhaps “Pro Se Nation,” which offers advice to people who want to represent themselves in court. On a recent episode of the “Aphrodisiac Chefs,” the hosts whipped up a menu of “smashed meaty loaf sliders” to be washed down by a “citrus copulation.” There was also, until recently, gavel-to-gavel coverage of local municipal meetings, for those interested in town politics. If you haven’t seen it, imagine a mixture of “Wayne’s World,” “Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job,” and C-Span. It’s the kind of eclectic brew of shows that you would find on any thriving public access station anywhere in the country — in places where such institutions still exist.
One thing you won’t see on Princeton Community Television is commercials or fundraising drives. Since the vast majority of the station’s budget comes from public funding, there is no need to interrupt the programming to advertise or raise cash.
But the future of Princeton Community Television is in doubt, as the town council has decided to eliminate the station’s $232,000 annual funding.
Princeton Community Television was founded in 1997 using money the town collected from cable TV providers as compensation for being allowed to serve customers within town limits. At the time, the law required these cable franchise fees to be used to support community television.
Soon afterwards, the law was changed to allow towns to either use the money for community television or for property tax relief. Princeton opted to continue to support its TV station but spun it off into a nonprofit whose budget was covered by the franchise fees.
That’s how it was until last month, when the latest contract between the town and the TV station expired, and the township decided to no longer fund the station at all.
At first the township offered a new deal: The station would be weaned off of all public funding over several years and left to its own devices. Lew Goldstein, board chair of Princeton Community Television, came back with a counter-offer. Rather than make another counter-offer, the township chose to walk away from the table altogether, said township councilman David Cohen, who led the negotiations.
“We value TV 30 and we think they do good things for the community. But there are many nonprofits in town that do great stuff for the community, but the township does not fund them.”
Cohen said that Princeton property taxes have gotten so painful that the use of funds for the TV station instead of tax relief could no longer be justified. “We offered to gradually reduce our subsidy over the next couple of years and keep on paying them a fixed amount to televise our municipal meetings,” he said.
Cohen made clear the offer was of the take-it-or-leave-it variety. He does not believe the TV station has any bargaining leverage to make the town consider counter-offers. Since the failed negotiations in April, the township has been filming municipal meetings itself and posting them on the town website, at a cost that Cohen says is cheaper than what it had offered to pay TV 30 for the service.
However, he did not rule out resuming bargaining with the TV station if it came back to the table.
McCollough said almost the entire budget of Princeton Community TV was paid for by the franchise fees. The rest was covered by members, who pay a small membership fee and in return get to use the TV studio and its equipment.
Princeton Community Television’s tax forms show that the majority of its budget goes towards paying its small staff. In 2017 it paid a total of $146,671 in compensation. The staff includes McCollough, operations manager Sharyn Alice Murray, and production associate Markian Bek. Rent for the station’s space in Monument Hall was about $20,000 that year, and the rest went towards various other expenses.
McCollough is a veteran of community television. His father died young and he ended up moving around a lot as a kid, living in Virginia, Chicago, and Philadelphia. He studied film at Temple University and got his start in television at Drexel’s public access channel in Philadelphia.
The total amount of Princeton Community Television’s budget is relatively small compared to the town of Princeton’s $38 million budget — if the cost were divided evenly among all the town’s households, it would be about $23 a year.
Despite its relatively small cost, Cohen says the taxpayers of Princeton shouldn’t be responsible for paying for it anymore. One reason for cutting Princeton Television’s funding is that would-be TV show hosts now have a plethora of Internet-based alternatives. Anyone with a phone or a computer and an Internet connection now has the ability to create their own TV show and broadcast it to the world.
Princeton Community Television has kept up with the times, technologically. In addition to broadcasting on Verizon and Comcast, viewers can stream individual TV shows on Vimeo or catch the TV station live on its website at www.princetontv.org. The channel can be accessed on Roku and Apple TV, and McCollough hopes to expand to Amazon Fire Stick soon.
This expansion to digital media has given the station the ability to do something that was impossible back when it was broadcast over the airwaves: a good way to see how many people are watching. The station’s social media accounts now get millions of impressions a year, McCollough says.
And multiple residents have written letters to the editor in support of continuing to fund Princeton Community Television, another metric of how many people the station is reaching.
In a letter about the station losing its funding, Princeton TV member Natasha Sherman, who hosts a life coaching show, said a recent show of hers made a big impact:
“In the past year I did three shows on scleroderma, a devastating disease that is considered incurable. A Princeton physician working with my guest, Jane, suggested medication that was not available in the U.S. at that time. As a result, Jane is a walking miracle; as of now, the first person we know of who is cured of scleroderma. Partly because of Jane being unstoppable as an advocate for finding a cure, and because of the attention she got from doing the interviews and spreading the word, as of January, 2019, the medication she used has now been made available in the U.S.,” she wrote.
“Recently, there was a statement made indicating that the reason Princeton was refusing to continue allocating the monies to sustain Princeton Community Television was that they had a commitment to providing taxpayer relief. How does an annual budget of $232,000 provide significant taxpayer relief?”
But it’s not about the numbers for TV proponents. “We are the only local broadcast outlet on cable television,” McCollough says. “I think it’s important to have local programming on there.”
This focus on serving the community allows the channel to broadcast programs that would never be commercially viable. “It doesn’t matter if some program reaches an audience of thousands of people, or only two or three people,” he says. “Our goal is to get people to be able to make the programs they want without any judgment of the programs. For example, we have a program called ‘Navigate Autism’ that is for parents with kids with autism to help give them resources to better serve their kids. It might not have a lot of people watching, but for the people who do watch, it’s extremely important.”
McCollough describes this approach as “low pressure TV.” There is no pressure to produce shows with good ratings that will appeal to advertisers.
That is not to say that everything is low quality. A documentary made through the station’s Community Partners Project covered the teen pregnancy support program of the Trenton Public School District. The film ended up winning best documentary at the Nassau Film Festival (coordinated by Goldstein).
The Community Partners Project is a training program that pairs professional filmmakers with community organizations to help them make documentaries about themselves (U.S. 1, October 7, 2015). The program started in 2015 with profiles of Princeton Community Housing and the Princeton Youth Ballet and expanded from there: Princeton TV provides equipment and expertise, and the nonprofits provide only labor.
But what role does a TV station like this have in a media environment where people who want to make shows can just do it themselves online?
“One other thing that’s really coloring the governing body’s attitude is how much the media environment has changed since 10 years ago, when public access TV was really a crucial way for citizens to get video programming distributed,” Cohen says. “If you had people in town who had shows that were of interest to the public and they wanted to share them with people, you needed public access TV to be able to do that. Nowadays with YouTube and online free services, basically anybody who wants to can put together an interview show and put it on YouTube and compete in the marketplace of similar shows. And if it’s good, and people want to watch it, they get the exposure that they want.”
McCollough noted that the TV station does more than just give people a way to distribute content. It also provides studio space and training. Community members can sign up for classes on podcasting, video production, and use of cameras, ranging in cost from $15 to $65.
The battle over funding, then, is a question of whether the station should be “low pressure” for its members or if the show creators should “compete in the marketplace,” which would likely result in a vastly different approach to making shows. Cohen suggested the station could raise money by commercializing itself and selling ads on its popular shows online. Alternatively, he said, they could raise more money from viewers in pledge drives like they do on public television and radio stations. He admits, however, that as a viewer, he finds these pledge drives annoying.
McCollough pointed out that the public television fundraising model has led to public TV stations airing shows that were not exactly local. “There’s only so many TV stations that can run British sitcoms,” he said. He also said he wanted to keep membership fees as low as possible so that anyone could come make a show even if they were of low economic means. Right now fees are only $35 a year for an individual, $150 for a nonprofit, and $250 for a business.
Cohen said it was unfair to ask the entirety of Princeton taxpayers to pay higher rates so that “200 people in Princeton” as well as viewers in surrounding towns can enjoy uninterrupted community programming. He also said it was unfair that surrounding townships got to see the shows without contributing anything, and that many Princeton TV creators and members are from outside of town.
McCollough counters this line of argument by pointing out that many township employees come from outside of the town as well.
Public access TV in the U.S. was bolstered by the 1984 Cable Act, which allowed municipalities to collect franchise fees. In the wake of this act, small TV stations like TV 30 sprang up all over the country. But in recent years, they have been dying off. Los Angeles shut down its public access stations a decade ago. In March, in a situation remarkably similar to the current dilemma in Princeton, Columbia, Missouri, lost its only public access station after the city government cut its $200,000 to $0 over a period of several years. The station was unable to raise substantial money from private sources and shut down.
The entire dispute, however, may be rendered moot: The FCC is considering changing the amount of fees that municipalities can charge to cable companies, which could result in the funding drying up in any case.
Goldstein said the staff at the station is nervous about the possibility of layoffs and downsizing. He vowed that Princeton TV would go on no matter what. “Princeton TV will continue to run because we will reach out to other communities and to private individuals who have a high interest in making sure Princeton TV continues to thrive for the next generation,” he said. “We just want the mayor and council to come on board as supporters in this instead of trying to demonize us for doing the right thing.”
Princeton Community Television, 1 Monument Drive, Princeton 08540. 609-252-1963. George McCollough, executive director. www.princetontv.org.
It turns out small business is big business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 30.2 million small businesses in the country, employing nearly half of the entire workforce. Karen Kerrigan, founder and CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council in Washington, D.C., is there to advocate for the interests of this giant group of little guys.
Kerrigan founded the lobbying organization 25 years ago, and today it is one of the more prominent voices for the interests of small business owners. She spends her days talking to lawmakers, making appearances on media outlets, meeting with small business owners from around the country, writing press releases, and generally trying to advance a pro-business legislative agenda.
Occasionally she also visits local chambers of commerce, and that is what she will do on Thursday, June 13, when she visits the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce for the Independent Business Summit at the College of New Jersey from 8 to 10:45 a.m.
Kerrigan will speak about the current state of entrepreneurship. Chris Kuenne of Rosemark Capital will also be there to discuss the book he co-wrote: “Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win.” Tickets are $45, $35 for members. For more information, visit www.princetonmercerchamber.org.
Kerrigan is currently working on several major legislative issues affecting small businesses. Some of them have support from both Democrats and Republicans despite an extremely partisan atmosphere.
“On the healthcare front, we are working to push through a bill that would extend the moratorium on the health insurance tax,” she said. The tax on insurance plans was included in the Affordable Care Act of 2010 but its implementation has been delayed.
Kerrigan is also in favor of an updated trade agreement with Mexico. “There are a lot of really good provisions for small businesses that would incentivize and lower barriers of trade between Canada and Mexico,” she said. “When most small businesses begin to trade in the global marketplace, they start either on the northern or southern border.”
On some issues, Kerrigan joins with businesses of all sizes in opposition to certain actions taken by the Trump administration, which has been levying tariffs, taking the view that trade wars are generally bad for business. She says tariffs against Mexico would especially impact agriculture, building and construction, importers, and retailers.
The Jobs Act 3.0 is another pro-small-business bill that enjoys broad bipartisan support. The law, sponsored by Democrat Maxine Waters of California, would remove some restrictions on crowdfunding. The law has passed the House of Representatives three times but has gotten hung up in the senate.
Kerrigan, again joining with the broader business community, has been advocating for immigration reform and describes herself as pro-immigration. Small businesses, she says, want more foreign workers available for hard-to-fill job openings.
With unemployment below 4 percent, workers are able to command higher wages, and this is a problem for small business. “It’s very competitive competing against mid- or larger-type businesses because they have the resources to pay more and give better benefits,” she says. “We want to essentially allow small businesses access to a larger pool of workers.”
On other issues, Kerrigan opposes the Democrats, particularly the left-leaning progressive wing of the party. Several Democratic presidential candidates, most prominently Bernie Sanders, support providing healthcare to all citizens by replacing private health insurance with a single-payer, Medicare for All system.
While such a system would relieve businesses of the burden of providing health insurance, it would impose tax increases on individuals and businesses to pay for it. “In order to pay for it, you would have pretty vast tax increases for individuals and businesses and huge payroll taxes that would hurt workers,” she says. “The proposals we’ve heard are pretty expensive from a tax perspective.” Proponents argue that the tax increases would still be cheaper than the premiums that individuals and businesses currently pay.
“We don’t think big government is the answer, particularly given the cost of it and what it would mean for entrepreneurship,” Kerrigan says.
Her proposals on the healthcare front involve less radical reform still intended to make healthcare more affordable. She is pushing legislation to allow small businesses to form associations to buy health insurance together. In this way, they would be able to drive harder bargains when negotiating with health insurance providers.
Normally Kerrigan’s group is on the same side of most issues as big and medium-sized businesses. But association health plans are one area where the interests of small business go against those of corporate giants. Another is tax-advantaged health savings accounts, which Kerrigan supports despite opposition from health insurers.
She also favors deregulating the electricity market, a measure that is opposed by big utilities. “We’re always on the side of disruption and innovation, and big players who have been in the market for a long time don’t necessarily like that,” she says.
Kerrigan is even sure to mention small businesses when discussing her early background. She was born on Long Island and grew up in upstate New York, where her parents worked for the state government. “It was great growing up in a small town with a lot of small businesses,” she says.
After graduating from the State University of New York College at Cortland, Kerrigan spent 10 years working for nonprofits. Her experience raising funds served her well when she decided to go into policy advocacy in the 1990s. She founded the Entrepreneurship Council in 1994 and used her skills to grow the membership and donor base.
Since then she has worked through periods of intense partisanship, and times when lawmakers were more amenable to compromise. She acknowledges that the current divided government is dysfunctional. But like an experienced farmer reading the weather, she sees a break in the storm ahead. “Whenever it’s very partisan, you tend to have breaks where you have these moments of bipartisanship. You’re able to create momentum and use that to get things done. I think we’re entering a three to four month period of that,” she says. “We’re going to see some productivity.”
A Trenton Central High School student who works with his father in a construction business took the architecture preparation course (ArcPrep) at Trenton Central High School. Connecting classwork to what he sees in the field, the student hopes to forge a career combining his knowledge of design and construction.
Another Trenton student found her way to ArcPrep because of her talent in drawing, but she gained additional skills. She now works over longer periods of time, has improved her presentations and has created an impressive portfolio for the future.
The class, which was new in September, offers a design studio atmosphere to some 15 tenth graders each semester in the temporary high school community on East Hanover Street. To take the class, high school sophomores are recommended by the ninth-grade teachers based on academic standing and interest, and those interested in pursuing an architecture career will stay in touch with their Princeton University Department of Architecture mentors. The immersive course is taught four days a week, three hours a day. On the fifth weekday students hear from guest speakers, tour architecture offices and participate in career and college counseling programs.
“A lot of the course is how to think spatially,” says program instructor Katie Zaeh, a Princeton architectural design fellow. Each student has a sketchbook and each class begins with 10 minutes of sketching. The projects also provide lessons in time management, practice with rulers and scale, and measurement.
“An architectural education prepares students for more than a future in architecture,” she says. “It teaches students to think spatially, think critically, and present their work, which are helpful skills no matter what fields students pursue. Architecture is naturally cross-curricular and requires students to apply the knowledge they learn in their math, science, and liberal arts classes.”
Developed and managed by the Princeton University School of Architecture and funded by the Trenton Public Education Foundation and other donors, the goal of the class is to introduce the field of architecture to students who are underrepresented in the architecture field. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), of all registered architects in the U.S., less than 2 percent are African American and only 3 percent are Latino.
Princeton Architecture Dean Monica Ponce de Leon says the program “is introducing some of our region’s most promising students to architecture, a field that has historically lacked diversity.” De Leon had launched a similar successful program in Detroit while she was a dean at the University of Michigan.
ArcPrep addresses concerns brought to light in a 2016 AIA study, Diversity in the Profession of Architecture.
One concern is that inner city residents may think they cannot afford the costs associated with a degree in architecture. ArcPrep provides architectural training at no cost to students, Zaeh says. “We coach students to apply to colleges wisely, and look for those that provide grants and other forms of financial aid that will make it possible for them to afford architecture school. We also help in the college application process through the creation of a design portfolio, which students can use to show they are competitive applicants for architecture school.”
ARC Prep also addresses the study’s conclusion that there are few role models for people of color in architecture. “We bring in architects, planners, and other professionals of color to act as role models for our students,” says Zaeh. “Many of these professionals come from the city of Trenton itself, which helps keep our curriculum locally relevant. We also strive to incorporate the significant contributions of architects of color to architecture when studying precedent buildings in our studio module.
“We want students to see themselves having a future in architecture without having to leave behind their cultural identities or change who they are. The field of architecture needs their unique perspectives.”
Field trips and speakers included a tour of the Princeton University campus; a visit with and walking tour by Studio Hillier; a Sharbell Development Corp. apartment tour; participation in the Cooper Hewitt Design Fair where they could speak with college representatives from design programs and meet professionals; and a discussion with representatives at The Social Profit Center at Mill One, on the role of non-profits in developing Trenton, and its potential for growth. Students took walking tours focused on the history of Trenton through the lens of urban development, and architect John Hatch of Clarke Caton Hintz walked students through local architecture, including the Roebling Lofts project. Lionel Scirven a Trenton Central High graduate, laid out his journey from living on Academy Street to practicing as an architect.
Designing a structure specifically for Trenton is the final class project: a bandshell sited at the field across from the War Memorial near the Capitol complex. This project, says Zaeh, “allows students to apply what they have been learning about sound all semester to a real place we can walk to from our classroom. During one of our field trips, we found out from a local architect that plans for the city actually do call for an outdoor performance space in that area. Students were excited to work on an authentic problem, and immediately began to wonder if their work would be considered by the eventual designers of that outdoor performance space.”
The portfolio presentations are set for Friday, June 14, at the Princeton School of Architecture.
“Last semester’s portfolio day was heart-warming for me as an educator,” says Zaeh. “The students shone as they confidently presented their work to graduate-level architecture students, professors, and community members. These were the same students who refused to stand in front of the room to present to our small class of peers back in September. The students got great feedback on their work, and I think it helped them see the value of their designs.”
ArcPrep seeks speakers who are involved in the architecture, construction, and design fields, such as architects, engineers, environmentalists, urban planners, landscape architects, developers, interior designers, graphic designers, community activists, politicians, artists, contractors and more. Anyone interested in participating or attending the presentations should email email@example.com
As Father’s Day approaches, there are Mercer County fathers who through a variety of circumstance are unable to have the full experience of being a dad but are determined to find a way to interact with and be a part of their children’s life.
UIH Family Partners in Trenton is a program that gives them that hope.
Established in 1859 as an orphanage, the Trenton-based Union Industrial Home for Children — now known as UIH Family Partners — is the oldest nonprofit in New Jersey to address the needs of children and families.
With a mission to help men become involved fathers, the organization served more than 1,200 men in 2018 with programs and services focusing on four areas: prevention, workforce development, job readiness, and fatherhood.
Open to men from all walks of life, the majority of those involved are unemployed, non-custodial fathers. And because of community need, the organization added a satellite location in Burlington County to address the growing call for the services it provides.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, whose own father died when he was very young, knows from experience the difficulties of growing up in a household with the absence of a father.
When Fitzpatrick was preparing to retire from his consulting work as founder and president of Princeton Strategy Consultants, he began to look around at area non-profits to get involved with. VolunteerConnect, an organization that matches professionals looking for pro bono opportunities to nonprofit organizations, introduced Fitzpatrick to UIH Family Partners, where he now serves on the board of directors.
“We talk a lot about rebuilding and helping establish relationships with fathers and their children,” says Fitzpatrick. “These men come in from referrals on the street, from a pastor, from other nonprofits, such as HomeFront and Isles, or from the court system. Ultimately these are men with an inclination, a drive, to be better fathers and a wish to have a relationship with their children.”
Studies have shown that an involved father is critical to the health and overall well-being of a child. Children who have a relationship with their father are also less likely to get in trouble with the law, tend to do better in school, and are more likely to succeed in life.
UIH goes beyond studies and uses fathers’ personal testimonies. “Everything about being a father is seeing (the child) every day,” says one. Another gets right to the issue: “If I had a positive role model in my life, things would have turned out way different.”
To mark its 160th anniversary UIH Family Partners will be presenting a special edition of its signature event, Platinum Dads, on Friday, June 14, at the Bradford Estate in Hainesport, New Jersey.
The annual event recognizes 10 fathers or father figures who have been positive and consistent forces in the lives of children.
This year’s honorees include 1911 Smokehouse chef Reggie Hallett, African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey president John Harmon, Isles founder and president Marty Johnson, and others.
Stacy Heading, founder of the Trenton-based volunteer group Heal the City, will receive the Legacy of Fatherhood Award — UIH’s highest award — given to a father for his lasting impact on his community.
The organization and event are guided by UIH director Karen Andrade-Mims.
Originally from Yeadon, Pennsylvania, Andrade-Mims graduated with a degree in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975. She came to Princeton with her husband in 1987 to assist an ill family member and remained.
Since then she has served on the boards of several nonprofit social organizations, received a master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers-Newark in 2005, and is the former deputy director of program for Prevent Child Abuse NJ.
Andrade-Mims, who after a divorce found herself a single mother experiencing child raising from a perspective different from the focus at UIH, said in a printed interview that her involvement with UIH “began as a board member, and when the executive director left in 2008, I was asked to take over as an interim. I’m still here.”
In addition to the Platinum Dads semi-formal, UIH Family Partners has embarked on a year-long fundraising campaign, “Fatherhood: Building a Foundation of Hope for the Future,” to enable UIH Family Partners to continue to offer free programs including job readiness, Dress2Impress workplace clothing, computer literacy training, parenting education, anger management, stress and time management, Daddy & Me Literacy, Community of Health for Men, and more.
As a former management consultant, Fitzpatrick is fascinated by the transformation of this organization with its long history and enduring dedication and determination to better the lives of children. From an orphanage, to a home for teen mothers, to today’s focus on fathers and fatherhood, its commitment to serve Mercer County’s neediest and most vulnerable residents remains unwavering.
As noted earlier, his interest was shaped by his own life.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, an industrial city that fell on hard times, like Trenton, Fitzgerald describes his early life by saying “my mother was widowed young, with three pre-teenage children. After my father’s death (he was a clerk with British Railways), we were supported mostly by government social programs. I almost always had some part-time job at school and college, including working at a greyhound race track and as a machine operator in a structural steel works.”
Although he says he “was not really very academically motivated,” academics were in his future. “My parents had both had to leave school at age 14, owing to their family circumstances, but they were very committed to education, not in a pushy way, but just quietly and steadily. I would happily play soccer in the street for as late as possible in the evening, but my mother would call from the window ‘homework!’”
Consequentially he and his siblings were the first generation to attend college, and he graduated from the University of Glasgow with honors.
Fitzpatrick says he began his career with the Ford Motor Company, first in product development and then became an engineering manager in their large factory near London. “After a couple of years, I decided that engineering really was not a career for me, so I took a business degree at Imperial College in London and joined the PA Consulting Group, at the time the largest business consulting firm outside the U.S. I worked on different projects across Europe for six or seven years, then came to the U.S. to help grow their business here.
“I came to Princeton from Washington, D.C., when the company decided to consolidate a number of smaller offices around the country into a larger headquarters, and Princeton was the chosen location. By the late 1980s I was a senior executive running a division of the PA Consulting Group in Princeton.”
He says that he was spending “a lot of time on new business development and selling new projects and recruiting new staff and not spending much time on actual consulting face-to-face with clients, which is what I had always enjoyed.”
As computer technology and online databases became more common, he saw an opportunity to create a consulting company that “focused on a specific industry, with selected services, and very efficient in terms of staffing and delivery, and that led me to form Princeton Strategy Consultants Inc. in 1988 and which I headed for 25 years. Fortunately, it was successful pretty much from the start.”
He then began his involvement with nonprofits, serving on the boards of Your ReSource in Ewing and Goodwill and then UIH.
“Based on my own background, I’m particularly interested in UIH services in providing relevant training, education, and job placement with targeted local growth industries. But what stands out most for me at UIH is the experience, dedication, and relentless commitment that the UIH staff in Trenton and Burlington bring every day to their work on some of the most challenging issues in our community.”
Overall, he says, “We’ve got a great story here, and to me, that’s worth sharing.”
160th Anniversary/2019 Platinum Dads Event, UIH Family Partners, The Bradford Estate, 1910 Marne Highway, Hainesport. Friday June 14, 6 to 10 p.m. $125 to $150. www.uihfamilypartners.org or 609-695-3663.
UIH Family Partners, 4 North Broad Street, Suite 2R, Trenton. Karen Andrade-Mims, director.
Trenton musician Nikki Nalbone — aka Nikki Nailbomb — describes Art All Night as her favorite event of all the events she plays — even though she was in attendance at last year’s gang-related shooting.
But the 32-year-old singer and guitarist also says she will put that past behind her and be performing when Art All Night returns for 24 hours starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 15. Due to security concerns, however, the venue will be open only to working artists and volunteers from 1 to 7 a.m.
With others musicians and artists doing and saying the same, Nalbone is a de facto ambassador of an arts community intent on building Trenton’s spirit and future.
Born in Trenton and raised in Lawrence, Nalbone can be seen and heard in several Trenton bands. That includes Molly Rhythm, Party Show (formerly Moron Girls), and the all-female Destroylet.
She is also working on a new project with rotating musicians including the weekly jam nights she hosts with fellow Molly Rhythm member Caleb Walker at Championship Bar on Chambers Street in Trenton.
That Tuesday Night Open Jam is an open mic and open instrument event where both experienced punk and hip-hop musicians and newcomers looking for a platform or trying something new can come together and mix it up on stage.
In addition to organizing events at Championship Bar (aka Champs), she — along with boyfriend Drew Glenn — manages the bar.
“We all try to do the right thing,” she says referring to the bar’s staff and owners, former band drummer Hank Ransome and his daughter, Heather. “This bar is so beautiful. It taught me so much about people. It shouldn’t be about drinking. It’s about hanging out. You should be able to feel and do whatever,” she says.
Music is in Nalbone’s blood. She started on the piano at seven and played cello in middle school into high school, where she also picked up the bass guitar. Then her musician father, Frank, sprung for a six-string guitar. She says that was when she became inspired by the power in music, especially defiant female power.
But there is more. Her parents owned and operated the now-defunct City Gardens music venue, a legendary Trenton punk destination.
“I grew up seeing a lot of bands,” Nalbone says.” At 12 I saw my all-time favorite band there, (the all-female punk band) the Friggs. I thought, ‘I can do this,’” she says.
After living in New Brunswick and playing punk houses, Nalbone moved back to Trenton about a decade ago.
Reflecting on Trenton’s past, Nalbone says she is aware of how economics and race have affected the city. That includes her own family’s history with City Gardens. She says the property had been a black-owned club that hosted musicians such as George Clinton and hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow.
Disturbed by the loss of the proposed Princetel Project through Trenton City Council’s inaction (see U.S. 1, May 1), Nalbone says that Trenton residents need to affect change. “We can have nice shit. We can do this if we’re all passionate about it. We can do it without gentrification. I want a place that has room if people want to have kids. We’ve got houses here. I want people to prosper here. We need to take care of our people. We need to boost morale here in a healthy and non-sellout way,” she says.
Up next for Nalbone is the Art All Night performance of the Molly Rhythm, a group she calls “dueling harmonies with two guitarists. We want to say stuff we think is important in a pop, catchy way. It’s a fun platform. We try to break the rules as much as possible. Through thick and thin, we’ve been through all types of ups and downs together.”
“Art All Night is the best festival ever,” she says. “I don’t know how the security is going to work after last year. But I hope it goes well. There are a lot of problems with the police here. I just want to bring people together, and I want them to feel safe. We do some cool shit here,” she says.
The question regarding security is related to a young man’s late night arrival at the 2018 festival to settle a score with another attendee.
Nalbone, who had performed earlier, says she was on the scene with her father and singer and Champs regular Liz Cisco when the gunshots came.
“I dove down behind a wall,” she says, “Me, Liz, and this other lady who’s like my sister now. My dad was right on the other side of the wall from me. I had no idea what was happening. It was more than just a few shots, too. It sounded like a high-tech video game. I was terrified.”
Then, she says, “I learned that the guy who fired the shots had some issues with mental illness and he was trying to get help. He couldn’t get the help he needed. The system failed him. I feel as bad for him as I do for all the people who were running from the shots.”
Nalbone says she will never let one incident ruin the experience of Art All Night for her. “Bringing everyone together is important,” she says.
That’s also an attitude shared by the Art All Night staff at the nonprofit Artworks Trenton and the City of Trenton as they make been making changes to create a space summed up with three words: Art. Community. Nonviolence.
Art All Night, Roebling Wire Works, 675 South Clinton Avenue, Trenton. Saturday, June 15, 3 p.m. through, Sunday, June 16, 3 p.m. Donation requested. www.artworkstrenton.org/artallnight
When most congregants attend Sunday services, they are probably not expending a lot of thought on all the work that goes into the preparation of the music, or the broader creative lives of those who compose and arrange it.
Tim Keyes has been the pastoral assistant of music and liturgy at the Catholic Community of St. Charles Borromeo in Skillman for 18 years. His latest symphony is in rehearsals — with his own ensemble, the Tim Keyes Consort — in preparation for the work’s world premiere at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium on Saturday, June 15.
The concert will be made up of new works by New Jersey composers, including Keyes’ Symphony in G, “Christus: The Ascendance of Light.” The 56-minute, five-movement composition, scored for chorus and orchestra, caps the program.
There are a good many symphonies that attempt to convey a trajectory from dark to light. Keyes has gone to great pains so that his does not simply glide along a well-worn path from minor to major. “I would say that throughout the piece there’s a harmonic ambiguity,” he says. “It’s more of a process of transformation to light. You have arrival points, but harmonically you’re not really back at home base until the last measure of the piece.”
He draws a comparison to the kind of harmonic instability one experiences when listening to Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde,” but the effect of the coda is more like something out of a Ralph Vaughan Williams symphony. “It’s like a final prayer at the end, this repeated phrase that gets spun out musically. I usually end with a big, grandiose finish, but this piece ends in a whisper.”
The texts are taken from the Old and New Testaments, poetry of Ernestine Northover, and the Irish prayer “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.” The Latin prayer “Et lux perpetua luceat nobis” (“May perpetual light shine upon us”) forms the basis of a seven-minute fugue. In a world full of conflict the music addresses concerns that are both timely and timeless.
The program will also feature works by two of Keyes’ composition and theory students. “I asked them if they would also like to play with the idea of dark to light,” Keyes says. “So Andrew Gavin wrote a piece called ‘The Darkness Surrounds Me.’ He’s a Rowan University graduate (and East Brunswick resident). He’s been studying with me for a couple of years.
“Then one of my young students, Kathryn Dauer, she wrote a piece called ‘Parva Lux,’ which means ‘little light.’ She’s a student at Montgomery. She got accepted into the Ithaca composition program, which is quite a coup because they only accept four students per year.
“I’m really impressed with their enthusiasm and their talent. Writing an orchestral piece is a very huge challenge. It’s a different skill set. And then you add the choir to it, and it’s another one. It’s a huge chunk to bite off. They’ve really embraced the challenge.”
As a professional musician Keyes writes a lot of music, and he does so fairly quickly. In this sense, his duties at St. Charles are good discipline. For his creative work he relishes writing against deadline since it forces him to produce. In the case of the symphony plans for the concert were already in place well before the work was completed. “Having a group there, and the musicians hired to do it, it’s a heck of a motivator,” he says.
“It usually doesn’t take me a long time to compose, but this one was challenging on account of the theme. I was trying to make a statement musically, and I didn’t want it to come off as a cliche. I wrote about 600 or 700 measures of music and then tore it all up and started over a couple of times until I figured out how to do it. It’s a process. I think I started in July of last year, and I didn’t really have anything until December. From the middle of December I began to figure it out, and I finished it in March. So once I got going, it took about three months.”
He does everything the old-fashioned way, long-hand, with pencil and paper, before loading it into the computer. “I have a pile of pencils and I have these large orchestrating pads that I use to write, and I have a pad and a stack of pencils at the pianos and I just wander around writing it down.”
Born in Baytown, Texas, Keyes exhibited his musical aptitude early. He began taking piano lessons at the age of 5. Within weeks he had memorized the book, and he started to make up his own music. His father was a geologist who worked for what is now Exxon. Both he and Keyes’ mother were very supportive all throughout their son’s musical development. But he credits his mother in particular for her endurance.
“She would sit in the rocker in the living room and crochet while I practiced,” he recalls. “My dad was supportive, too, but she would actually listen to me, which is a pretty painful thing when someone’s learning.”
By high school Keyes was studying theory and composition with David Carter of the Houston Symphony. He continued his education at the University of Notre Dame with composers Paul Johnson and Ethan Haimo and musicologist Calvin Bower. A scholarship enabled him to attend the Aspen Music Festival for further studies with Charles Jones, Bright Sheng, and Leonard Bernstein.
Keyes arrived in New York in 1986, where he found employment with a number of the major record companies. He labored in the publication department of Warner Brothers, transcribing popular hits for sheet music sales, and he did production work for Epic and Geffen Records, among others.
Though his aims as a musician have been fairly straightforward, having to make a living at doing what he loves has taken him in some unexpected directions.
“Because of the way the music business has changed, I had to become a jack of all trades, as it were, able to do all these different kinds of things, in order to stay relevant and make a living doing it,” he says. “That’s what I encourage my students to do, too. You learn to arrange, you learn to write, you learn to record, you learn all the different software packages. You learn all of these things because it’s going to change, and with the next stage of what happens, you need to be able to embrace that and learn it.”
Keyes also held church music jobs almost since he graduated from Notre Dame. “The music department at Notre Dame was connected to the basilica there, so there was a lot of cross-pollination. All the music students had to do one of the ensembles with the church. You know, play in the basilica choir or do something, so I was involved with the church throughout. So when I came to New York on the weekends I always had a church position.
“The thing that drew me to St. Charles was just the community, really. I mean, it’s a very special place. The facility is beautiful, and the people are wonderful. I’ve been there for 18 years now. That’s a pretty long time. The longest I was at any of my other church positions was about six years. I’ve been at a lot of really great communities, too, but this was the best fit.”
The church is about a 40-minute commute from North Plainfield, where he makes his home with the designer Meg Poltorak Keyes. The couple has been married for 26 years.
“For the last few years she’s been designing churches,” Keyes says. “Right now she’s building the chapel at Caldwell University. It’s quite spectacular. She also helped to design the interiors at St. Charles.”
The two met when Keyes held an analogous position, his first in New Jersey, at North Plainfield’s St. Joseph’s.
From his dad, Keyes also inherited a love of carpentry, and he spends as much of his downtime as he can working with wood in a shop he keeps in his home. “It’s kind of my respite from the musical world,” he says. “It used to be just 24/7 music, but a few years ago I decided I needed to do something else for a little bit just to get some space.”
Clearly he can’t stay away from the music for long. The Tim Keyes Consort, now in its 24th year, grew out of all the connections he has made working with musicians throughout the state. “I’ve basically recruited all of these colleagues of mine and their students,” he says. “We perform four, sometimes five concerts a year now. There was a time that we were doing eight or ten, but that’s just a lot to do. We do concerts at other church communities. We tend to travel around.”
He thinks of the annual Richardson concert as a showcase for new and unusual music. It’s quite a different outlet for a working church musician who estimates he has arranged some 1,500 hymns for orchestra on top of countless settings of psalms and masses.
But it’s not just his latest symphony that has Keyes looking toward the light. He also finds plenty to be optimistic about in working with his younger colleagues.
“All the young people that are part of the consort, I’d say they’re probably the hope for the future — not just for music, but for everything. These young people that we work with are really a cut above, intellectually, socially. They’re very polite, just good kids. A lot of times, because of what we’re shown in the media, we don’t see that there are people like this around. All of the older folks in the consort feel it’s our responsibility to support them. Because they’re the future.”
Tim Keyes Consort, Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University. Saturday, June 15, 8 p.m. $15 to $35. 609-258-5000.
A high school diploma is supposed to prepare high school graduates for college. But what exactly does that mean today, and how should those expectations affect policy and practices?
New Jersey Spotlight will host a roundtable discussing these questions and more: How have graduates’ skills and knowledge requirements shifted in recent years? How are schools and the state dealing with this changing landscape and setting expectations looking forward? Could there be a better connection between K-12 education and New Jersey’s wide array of businesses and employers hiring from it, from small family shops to major corporations?
The roundtable will take place Tuesday, June 18, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Conference Center at Mercer County Community College. For more information on the free event, visit eventbrite.com.
Michael Cohen, president of Achieve Inc. in Washington, will be interviewed by NJSpotlight’s John Mooney. Cohen will discuss how over the past several decades the country established the standards movement and how states are addressing the resulting policy and political challenges.
A panel discussion will feature:
Linda Eno, assistant commissioner of the state department of education.
Aaron Fichtner, president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges and former state labor commissioner.
Susan Henderson, president of Jersey City University.
Attendees may submit questions as part of registration.
New Jersey Bioscience Center, 675 Route 1 South, North Brunswick 08902. 732-839-1881. Lenzie Harcum, manager. www.njtechcentre.com.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has changed the name of the Technology Center of New Jersey to the New Jersey Bioscience Center to reflect the research park’s focus on life science companies.
The campus includes lab and office space options for companies at all stages of growth from incubator space for startups to built-to-suit labs for established companies.
“From New Jersey’s highly talented workforce to our ideal location and proximity to more than a dozen pharmaceutical giants, life sciences companies of all sizes are finding immense value in locating at our facilities,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said. “Rebranding the North Brunswick campus park under the New Jersey Bioscience Center umbrella will help us promote the research park’s available lab and office space to a national and international audience.”
The incubator, formerly known as the Commercialization Center of Innovative Technologies, and the accelerator, formerly known as the Biotechnology Development Center, are now respectively NJBC — Incubator at North Brunswick and NJBC — Step Out Labs at North Brunswick.
The 46,000-square-foot NJBC — Incubator offers 27 wet labs, the most of any incubator in the Garden State. Currently home to 20 businesses, the facility includes both small and large labs, as well as offices. Considered New Jersey’s leading life sciences incubator, the NJBC — Incubator also provides tenant companies with educational programs and supporting resources, including help to identify funding sources and access to small business development resources, networking opportunities, and administrative support. Additionally, it offers discounted first-year rent for university drug-discovery spinouts. Startups moving to the NJBC — Incubator can apply for rent support through the NJEDA’s NJ Ignite program.
The NJBC — Step Out Labs at North Brunswick opened in June, 2018, and offers intermediate lab and office space for companies that have outgrown incubator space and other early-stage companies looking to expand. The NJBC — Step Out Labs space targets all subsectors of the biotechnology industry, with the goal of serving graduates of the NJBC — Incubator and other well-funded startups that are ready for intermediate space. The NJBC — Step Out Labs currently has six tenants, including China-based Adlai Nortye, which chose its New Jersey location as its United States headquarters.
Soligenix (SNGX), 29 Emmons Drive, Suite B-10, Princeton 08540. 609-538-8200. Christopher J. Schaber, president and CEO. www.soligenix.com.
The biopharmaceutical company has won a three-year, $600,000 subcontract from the government to develop medical countermeasures against bacteria used for biological warfare. The company’s “Innate Defense Regulator” technology works by regulating the patient’s immune system to reduce inflammation, eliminate infection, and increase survival.
The grant will be used to test the effectiveness of IDR in lab animals against several kinds of bacterial infections. IDR is also being tested on human cancer patients to treat oral mucositis, a complication of treatments for head and neck cancer.
Edward R. Hall, 84, on June 8. He worked for Princeton Plasma Physics for more than 25 years. Services will be held Thursday, June 13, at 11 a.m. at the Wilson-Apple Funeral Home, 2560 Pennington Road in Pennington.
John H. Kisthardt Jr., 79, on May 17. He was employed as vice president of Kisthardt Auto Products in Lawrenceville for more than 30 years before his retirement.
Hayward Hutchinson Chappell, 91, on June 2. A Princeton alumnus and Korean War veteran, he served briefly in the CIA and worked the rest of his career as a catalyst salesman for American Cyanamid and United Oil Products.
Change — particularly an unplanned career change — can be tough on the body and the brain. But business coach Natasha Sherman has created strategies for coping with it and getting the best possible outcome, even if it means going against your most ingrained instincts.
Sherman will share her advice on strategy, mindset, and coping mechanisms at the Professional Service Group of Mercer County meeting on Friday, June 14, from 9:45 a.m. to noon at the Princeton Public Library. The event is free. For more information, visit www.psgofmercercounty.org.
Sherman wrote an essay detailing her method of mastering change:
Most of us want at least some things to change in our lives; our finances, our weight, our level of well-being and fitness, our level of satisfaction and happiness, etc. At the same time, we tend to resist change/changing. The familiar is extremely seductive even though we may not be thrilled with it.
I was in a training where they hypothesized that the most singular job of the brain is survival, and let’s face it, the brain does a magnificent job. You do not have to instruct your brain how to operate your body, when to cross the street, or how to get to work. They also posited that to the brain, happiness has no survival value. Although somewhat shocking, this actually made sense. Since the brain is such an exquisitely functioning instrument, if happiness had some survival value, we’d all be happy.
You’ve survived breaking your diet a dozen times, you’ve survived procrastination, you’ve survived the repeated arguments in your relationship, you’ve survived the habits you wanted to break or create and didn’t, you’ve survived being dissatisfied and taking no significant actions to change it. Your brain is fine with that. You’ve survived! It has done its job.
If happiness is not your brain’s job, it’s your job. So is change.
Change requires desire, commitment, a willingness to take action, a willingness to learn, a willingness to “fail,” to look foolish, to make mistakes, and it most definitely requires a willingness to be uncomfortable. Discomfort is a powerful motivator. When you get a cut, thank goodness you have pain. It provokes action. We often look at discomfort or unhappiness or dissatisfaction as indicative of failure. Another way to look at discomfort in any area of life is that it is simply a signal that something wants our attention, just like that cut.
Where do we start? It starts as an inside job. We start with exploring how we think and what we believe about our lives, about the world, about ourselves, and about what’s possible.
Just about everything starts with a thought. The quality of our thoughts and beliefs determines the quality of our actions and our results. As the saying goes, garbage in/garbage out.
The Wright Brothers had to have thoughts and beliefs about the possibility of flying. They had to have the desire, the commitment to problem solve, the willingness to stick with it, the willingness to fail over and over and over again. Their thought process and their belief in the possibility is what created their success and because of that, we are in space.
We tend to think that what we believe is reality. We fail to recognize that it is our reality, not necessarily a universal reality. Our choices, and our actions, results, and experiences in life get created out of our unique perception of reality. However, it is possible to see a different reality.
“Five minutes after your birth, they decide your name, nationality, religion and sect, and you spend the rest of your life defending something you didn’t even choose.” (Anonymous)
We weren’t born with our opinions, our thoughts, our beliefs. They were fed to us; by our families, our culture, school, our experiences, society, media, even our own unique nervous system. We can’t escape this. But if there are areas of life that are not working as well as we’d like them to, perhaps it’s time to dismantle rather than defend.
As they say, no matter where you go, there you are. And all the ways you operate in life that work well for you are coming with you. But so are all the ways you operate in life that don’t work well for you. They are coming with you into your next job, relationship, partnership, friendship, etc.
This is about developing judgment-free awareness. It’s not about defending or blaming. It’s about developing discernment. This area of my life is not working the way I’d like it to. What do I believe about it? What do I see as possible or not possible? Are there other ways I could see this situation? Are my reactions based on habit (the default position) or on what is actually going on right now?
If you walk into an interview not having faith in your abilities, in the value you bring and your ability to perform, your conversation will reflect that, and your results will reflect that.
If you avoid making a call because you believe it will be challenging, it will cause you to speak a particular way, perhaps be defensive or even offensive, or negatively misinterpret what the other person says. It starts with the thoughts and beliefs you bring to it, and your results will reflect that.
You can never outperform your belief systems. As Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Zig Ziglar says, “You are the most influential person you will talk to all day.”
Start to pay attention to your internal monologue. Get curious. Train yourself to seek other ways of perceiving the situation. Experiment. Notice the results.
This is about managing your mind because your mind will mug you if you let it. Do not believe everything you think. Be willing to break it down.
Our ways of thinking are habitual and usually are predictable, often unproductive, and have become the default. The default runs the show — unless you interrupt it.
Mastering change is a process, a journey. As a life success coach, I work with people to develop the mastery to “live by design and not by default.” There are learnable skill sets, tools, effective ways to transform your thinking, and intentional dismantling of what’s not working.
My favorite piece of graffiti said, “You get what you settle for.” We don’t always get to choose what happens, but we can develop the mastery to choose how to respond with power, effectiveness, and high levels of satisfaction. This is about thriving, not just surviving.